|Publication number||US7017817 B2|
|Application number||US 10/373,966|
|Publication date||Mar 28, 2006|
|Filing date||Feb 27, 2003|
|Priority date||Feb 28, 2002|
|Also published as||CN1441379A, CN100565551C, DE10308290A1, DE10308290B4, US20030160100|
|Publication number||10373966, 373966, US 7017817 B2, US 7017817B2, US-B2-7017817, US7017817 B2, US7017817B2|
|Inventors||Kunihiko Ito, Tadao Nojiri|
|Original Assignee||Denso Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (21), Referenced by (14), Classifications (8), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to an apparatus for reading information code, and in particular, to the apparatus that has the capability of reading information codes, such as two-dimensional codes and bar codes, from an object to be read, such as an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) on the surface of which is covered by a transparent protective layer.
2. Description of the Related Art
There has been known a handy information code reading apparatus capable of optically reading information codes, such as bar codes and two-dimensional codes. Such an apparatus has been disclosed by, for example, Japanese Patent Laid-open (KOKAI) publication Nos. 2001-307012 and HEI1(1989)-196680.
This type of information-code reading apparatus is shown in
This apparatus is handled to locate the reading opening 1 a closer to an object 7 to be read (i.e., a label or others) on which a two-dimensional code (such as a QR code) is recorded, with the attitude of the opening 1 a being almost parallel to the object. Then, the reading operation is carried out such that light is radiated onto the object 7 to be read from the LED 2 through the reading opening 1 a, so that its reflected light can be received through the reading opening 1 a. The received light is sent to the light receiving element 5 with the help of the reflection mirror 3 and the imaging lens 4 to read two-dimensional codes. During this reading operation, the case 1 is handled so that a reading light axis O passing through the various components of the light receiving means is set to be nearly perpendicular to the surface of the object 7 to be read.
By the way, it has been general that the conventional information code reading apparatus of this type is produced to read information codes printed on pieces of paper (normally, labels) serving as the object 7 to be read. On the other hand, a new system has recently been conceived which is capable of reading information codes displayed on the screen of, for example, a mobile phone or a liquid crystal display (LCD) unit 8 incorporated in a PDA (Personal Digital Assistance) or others, as shown in FIG. 10.
However, the LCD unit 8 has the screen of which surface is covered by a transparent protective layer 9 (for example, made of a plastic or glass material). Hence, in cases where information codes are to be read from the screen of the LCD unit 8, the illumination light from the LEDs 2 is specularly reflected on the protective layer 9, and the reflected light is projected onto the light receiving element 5. This makes it difficult to read information codes by the light receiving element 5. In addition, as shown in
The present invention has been made to overcome the above problem. An object of the present invention is to provide an information code reading apparatus capable of reading information codes on an object to be read, even when a transparent protective layer is placed on the surface of the object.
In order to achieve the foregoing object, as a fundamental configuration of the present invention, there is provided an information code reading apparatus comprising: a case having an end portion at which a reading opening is formed; an illuminating light source disposed within the case and configured to radiate illumination light through the reading opening toward an information code recorded on an object to be read; and a light receiver disposed within the case and configured to receive light reflected from the object through the reading opening, the reflected light returning along a reading light axis residing in a field of view of the light receiver, the reading light axis being oblique to a perpendicular axis to the reading opening, whereby the entire reading opening is illuminated by the light source. The illuminating light source is composed of an area light source disposed outside the field of view in a substantially parallel attitude along the field of view.
When reading the information code on an object to be read, the case of the information code reading apparatus is handled so that the reading opening is located almost in parallel to the object. The light source composed of the area light source is disposed outside of the filed of view of the light receiver, in a parallel attitude to the field of view, so as to face an outer contour of the field of view. Hence the area light source is able to emit illumination light toward the object through the reading opening so that the illumination light covers evenly a whole area to be read on whole object. In addition, the light receiver is disposed to be inclined to the perpendicular axis to the reading opening, that is, the object. Therefore, even when the object has a transparent protective layer thereon, like the screen of a liquid crystal display unit, it is possible that the light receiver resists receiving light specularly reflected from the protective layer.
In other words, the light receiver has less influence of the specular reflection resultant from the protective layer, whereby the receiver is able to primarily receive a diffusive reflection light component among the reflection light from the object. As a result, in cases where an object to be read has a transparent protective layer on the surface, an information code on the object can be read out in a steadier manner. Incidentally, when the information code is a square or rectangular two-dimensional code, an image formed at the light receiver becomes a trapezoid (isosceles trapezoid), but such an image can be read using software processing.
By way of example, the foregoing area light source can be composed of a combination of a plurality of LEDs and a diffusion light, a combination of an LED and a light guiding plate, or an EL (electroluminescence) panel. Using such components allows the area light source to entirely illuminate the object in an easier manner, with a comparatively less space occupied for the installation.
The imaging at the light receiver is affected by various factors, such as a cosine biquadrate rule of the imaging lens. Thus, an amount of light (i.e., resolution) at a peripheral part in the reading opening tends to be lower than a central part thereof, so that a reading capability at the peripheral part is lower than that at the central part. In addition, for reading a one-dimensional code, which is laterally elongated, such as a bar code, it is frequent to handle this kind of information code reading apparatus such that, for example, a head-side area (i.e., one-sided partial area) of the reading opening is made to locate over the one-dimensional code.
Hence, in order to increase an amount of illuminated light at the head-side area of the heading opening, it is preferable to dispose a partial illuminating member at the area light source having as a main body an entire illuminating member. This disposal of the partial illuminating member allows an amount of light, that is, resolution, at the head-side area of the reading opening to be enhanced. It is therefore possible that even if the head-side area is made to locate over the one-dimensional information code for reading, the reading operation can be done with precision.
More concretely, there can be provided the partial illuminating member having a light source different from that of the entire illuminating member. This configuration is effective for largely increasing an amount of light at the heads-side area of the reading opening. Alternatively, it is also preferred that the partial illuminating member is configured to cause the diffusion plate to optically diffuse the illumination light at a angle different from another angle of the illumination light emitted by the entire illumining member. Alternatively, it is still preferred that the partial illuminating member is configured to cause the light guiding plate to guide the illumination light at a angle different from another angle of the illumination light emitted by the main illumining member. According to either of the above alternative configurations, the partial illuminating member can be configured simply.
In the accompanying drawings:
Preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to accompanying drawings.
In each of the following various embodiments, an explanation will be given to a configuration where the present invention is applied to a handy two-dimensional code reader, which is able to read one-dimensional codes (bar codes) as well as two-dimensional codes (QR (quick response) codes). Furthermore, in the following embodiments, an object to be read having a transparent protective layer thereon will be exemplified as the screen of a liquid crystal display unit (LCD) incorporated in, for example, a mobile phone. Thus, detailed examples provided in the following embodiments are about reading information codes (QR codes) displayed on the LCD screen.
The case 12 is shaped into an approximately hollow cylinder having an approximate length along its longitudinal direction, but its tip-side half body is made to be oblique to the remaining body to form a neck-bent portion 12 a. At the tip of the neck-bent portion 12 a is formed a rectangular reading opening 16. Although not shown in
The reading mechanism 14 is provided with a light receiving element 17 composed of a CCD area sensor and an imaging lens 18 placed in front of the light receiving element 17 on the incidence side of light reflected from an object to be read. This reading mechanism 14 is located at a central part or thereabout in the longitudinal path of the case 12, that is, at a position from which the neck-bent portion 12 a begins to bend. A reading optical axis O, which is set through the reading mechanism 14, is oblique by an angle of θ to a perpendicular axis to the reading opening 16. In addition, a field of view V given to the reading mechanism 14 is formed to be projected to the reading opening 16, and the dimension of the field of view V is approximately equal to or slightly smaller than that of the reading opening 16. In
The illuminating light source 13 is composed of a relatively larger area light source and located within the neck-bent portion 12 a. To be specific, as shown in
When a user desires to read an information code (QR code) recorded on an object to be read, the user handles this reader 11 to locate the reading opening 16 of the case 12 closely to the information code in an approximately parallel attitude to the object. And the operator turns on the trigger switch to have the code read out. Responsively to the switch-on operation, light beams of illumination for reading codes are emitted from the illuminating light source 13 toward the object through the reading opening 16. The light reflected by the object is received by the reading mechanism 14 through the reading opening 16, and the information code is read out from the received light.
As a result, the reader 11 according to the present invention is able to cope with reading information from a liquid crystal display (LCD) unit 23 mounted to for example a mobile phone 22, as shown in FIG. 1. That is, the two-dimensional code reader 11 has the capability of reading an information code (QR code) displayed on the screen of the LCD unit 23. On the outer surface of the LCD unit 23 is a transparent protective layer 23 a made of glass or plastic material, while behind the protective layer 23 a is a liquid crystal layer on which information codes appear. In the case that the object to be read is the LCD unit 23, it is required that the light be emitted through the protective layer 23 a to reach the liquid crystal layer for reading an information code displayed on the liquid crystal layer.
In this two-dimensional code reader 11, the illuminating light source 13 consisting of the area light source, which is disposed outside along the outer contour of the field of view V, operates to emit illumination light onto the whole screen of the LCD unit 23 through the reading opening 16. In addition, the reading mechanism 14 is disposed such that its optical axis O is oblique to the perpendicular axis to the reading opening 16, that is, the screen of the LCD unit 23. Accordingly, even if there is the transparent protective layer 23 a on the surface (screen) of the LCD unit 23, the reading mechanism 14 will resist receiving the specular reflection of the light on the protective layer 23 a.
As a result, of the reflection light from the screen of the LCD unit 23, a diffusive reflection component can selectively be received by the reading mechanism 14. It is therefore possible that the LCD unit 23 on which the transparent protective layer 23 a is mounted is allowed to undergo reading the information codes without failure. Additionally, in the present embodiment, the illuminating light source 13 composed of the area light source is disposed outside along the outer contour of the field of view V, thus preventing the case 12 from increasing in size in a radial direction crossing the optical axis O.
In the present embodiment, if the two-dimensional information code is a square or rectangular two-dimensional code, an image produced at the light receiver 17 becomes a trapezoid (i.e., isosceles trapezoid). Even in such case, however, software processing makes it possible to read the square or rectangular two-dimensional code. Additionally, when pieces of paper on which a two-dimensional code is printed (such as labels) are subjected to reading code information, the reading operation can be done with steadiness. One-dimensional codes, such as bar codes, can also be read by this two-dimensional code reader 11.
The illuminating light source 24 has at least one LED 25 that provides a light source and a light guiding plate 26. Although not shown in detail in the figure, the light guiding plate 26 is composed of a light guiding layer, prism sheet, cover, and others, and an optical reflection plate 26 a is attached to the back of the light guiding plate 26. Thus, like the first embodiment, this modified configuration is able to provide the similar operations and advantages to those obtained in the first embodiment.
Of course, the light source means is not limited to the above configuration. For instance, as shown in
In the present embodiment, the illuminating light source 32 includes at least one LED 33 functioning as a light source, a light guiding plate 34 to which the LED 33 emits light, and an optical reflection plate 34 a on which the light guiding plate 34 is mounted (refer to FIG. 5). In this configuration, the head-side illuminating member 32 a is formed so that the illumination angle from the light guiding plate 34 is differentiated from each other between the head-side area P and the remaining area Q other than the head-side area P in the reading opening 16. More concretely, a shown in
The imaging at the reading mechanism 14 is affected by various factors, such as the cosine biquadrate rule at the imaging lens 18. Thus, an amount of light (i.e., resolution) at a peripheral part in the reading opening 16 tends to be lower than a central part thereof, so that a reading capability at the peripheral part is lower than that at the central part. Regardless of being such a situation, for reading a one-dimensional code, which is laterally elongated, such as a bar code, it is frequent to locate this two-dimensional code reader 31 such that a head-side area P of the reading opening 16 is located just over the screen of the object 35 to be read (such as an LCD unit), as shown in FIG. 4.
In the present embodiment, in addition to gaining the similar operations and advantages to those in the first embodiment, further additional advantages can be given. For example, since the illuminating light source 32 includes the head-side illuminating member 32 a at its one end, an amount of light at the head-side area P of the reading opening 16 can particularly be raised, whereby the resolution thereat can be improved greatly. Therefore the reading operation through the head-side area P can be conducted well even if the head-side area P is located over the information code on the object 35. In addition, the head-side illuminating member 32 a can be formed into a simpler structure, because only adjusting the illumination angles from the light guiding plate 34 can form the member 32 a.
Like the foregoing embodiments, though not shown in detail, an illuminating light source serving as the light source means is provided in this embodiment. The illuminating light source is provided with a plurality of LEDs that serve as light sources and an optical diffusion plate 39. Irregularities, such as triangular-waveform irregularities in section, are formed on the surface of the diffusion plate 39. The shapes of the irregularities are differentiated from each other between two portions corresponding to a head-side illuminating member 39 a and an entire illuminating member 39 b of the diffusion plate 39. Hence, the entire illuminating member 39 b other than the head-side illuminating member 39 a of the illuminating light source emits light mostly at a right angle to the plate 39. On the other hand, the head-side illuminating member 39 a thereof emits light mostly at a given obtuse angle made to the plate 39, that is, at a given oblique that deviates from an approximately perpendicular direction to the reading opening 16. Therefore, an amount of light illuminated onto the head-side area P of the reading opening 16 can be increased and larger than that onto the remaining area Q thereof. The similar operations and advantages to that obtained by the third embodiment can therefore be provided as well.
On the other hand, to partially illuminating the head-side area P in the reading opening, the head-side illuminating member is equipped with a plurality of LEDs 43 mounted on a base plate 43 a and an optical diffusion plate 44 disposed in front of the LEDs 43. This allows an amount of light projected onto the head-side area P of the reading opening 16 to be increased partially, with the result that reading an information code at a position below the head-side area P can be done with steadiness. In this configuration, the head-side illuminating member 40 b includes light sources (i.e., LEDs 43) different from that (i.e., LED 41) of the entire illuminating member 40 a. This results in that the degree of freedom for controlling amounts of light in each of the head-side area P and the entire reading opening 16 can be raised, thus leading to a well-controlled balance of intensity of light between the head-side area P and the entire reading opening 16.
The present invention is not limited to the configurations presented by the above-listed embodiments, but may be developed into various other forms that can be described as further modifications. For example, the information code reading apparatus of the present invention can be practiced into a fixed type of apparatus, not limited to the handy code reader as described above. Furthermore, the casing of the information code reading apparatus and internal structures therein may also be modified into various other modes, such as the employment of a reflection mirror(s) as the light receiver. In addition, the head-side illuminating member that has been adopted as the partial illuminating member of the present invention may be changed to other locations to the entire illuminating member, not limited to the disposal at one tip end thereof. For example, if necessary, the partial illuminating member is disposed at a central region of the entire illuminating member.
The present invention may be embodied in several other forms without departing from the spirit thereof. The present embodiments as described is therefore intended to be only illustrative and not restrictive, since the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims rather than by the description preceding them. All changes that fall within the metes and bounds of the claims, or equivalents of such metes and bounds, are therefore intended to be embraced by the claims.
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|U.S. Classification||235/462.42, 235/462.49, 235/462.43, 235/462.44|
|International Classification||G06K7/10, G06K7/00|
|Feb 27, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ITO, KUNIHIKO;NOJIRI, TADAO;REEL/FRAME:013818/0789;SIGNING DATES FROM 20030218 TO 20030219
|Dec 4, 2007||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Jan 1, 2008||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Jul 7, 2009||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Sep 25, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8